Saturday, January 17, 2015

Days 4 and 5, Ahmedabad: Just going on

When I took a decision to live away from the rest of my family by going to Ahmedabad a full week ahead of my MRCPCH exams, I probably thought that this would be the right way to immerse myself in studies and come out at the exams fully prepared. Instead, the days that have passed have been the usual: I have not been able to study in a single-minded way. The hotel that I am staying in has been good. The proprietor and his family have gone out of their way to make my stay comfortable. Mr. Jignesh Sharma has literally bent backwards to please me. A couple of negatives have been that their internet service has not been on par all the days. In between, there were many occasions when the net failed completely. To be fair, however, they responded every single time and got technical people to come and rectify the fault every time. Since yesterday, their internet has been working perfectly. 

While I went to a non-veg restaurant opposite the roza a few days ago, and then again today morning to have my breakfast, the other meals have all been in the hotel. Being a Punjabi kitchen, the options for lunch and dinner are limited to a thali consisting of tandoori roti with 2 vegetables, dal and jeera rice on most occasions; once or twice, I tried to break the mould and ordered differently. They made khichdi and kadhi with zeera aloo yesterday afternoon for lunch. They did this only for me. In the evening, I ordered a grilled vegetable sandwich, which turned out to be good. The only other demand I keep making on them is to have 5-6 cups of tea all through the day, the last one being at night. And they have always obliged, never complained. Indeed, the management and staff at Lalji's hotel need to be complimented for being so cooperative and nice. 

Ahmedabad is under a chill nowadays, and mornings are cold. In my room, I have seldom needed even a fan, let alone an air-conditioned environment. The location of the hotel is a bit odd, as there are no major shops, restaurants or facilities nearby. In the mornings and through the day, there are many hawkers on carts selling diverse food items from breakfasts, non-vegetarian meals and tea, to south-Indian idli sambar and Gujarati poha. I had poha for breakfast yesterday, and it was pretty warm and good. Other than this one occasion, I have avoided street food so far.

The burning Chinese lanterns on Uttarayan are not unique to Ahmedabad. I was informed that similar burning lanterns are now commonplace in Vadodra, Surat and many other cities in Gujarat. My daughter informed me that similar lanterns are also available to launch at Marine Drive in Mumbai. Although these lanterns are a great sight, they have led to fires all over Ahmedabad. The local newspaper has documented 30 places where fires caused damage to homes and shops in the city this year!

The final evening stretches out before me as I look at my books and worry about what more I can revise. Two meals, one night, 4 cups of tea and a night of sleep divide me from the exam that I will go for tomorrow afternoon. Whether it will be a triumph or not is to be seen. However, this experience is certainly something I am not going to forget for a long, long time to come. Thank you, dear reader, for reading this entry.

To those who came to this entry casually, may I urge you to read a few more entries before this one first, so that you will be able to understand what exam I am giving, and so on. If you should like what I have written, do feel free to sign up for updates on this blog.

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